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The spring 2024 “Stanford Social Innovation Review” includes the magazine’s annual industry forecast supplement, though its traditional predictions list is replaced with sections about identifying critical questions and experimentation.

As catastrophes, ruptures, and innovations have imbued society with uncertainty, they felt prognostications were no longer useful.

In another expectation-busting move to meet the moment, the White House and National Endowment for the Arts hosted an historic joint summit in Washington, DC to promote cross-sector partnerships—novel collaborations that surface new, necessary pathways for progress. They felt thriving in silos was no longer viable.

Attending the summit and reading the SSIR briefing, I noticed a common acute imperative to challenge conventions. I wondered how we might respond and walk a new service tightrope: helping leaders attend to urgent, day-to-day needs, while prepping them for unformed, emerging challenges. Our best current thinking is to seek equilibrium in three simultaneous tasks:

  • 1/ Providing resources for solving problems today
    Our fundraising workshop series is full of tactics for achieving annual goals, our Biannual Member Meeting focuses on leveraging journalism and diverse media to connect with audiences, and our technologist-in-residence staffs a free tech support and ideation hotline.
  • 2/ Offering rationale, tools, and encouragement for pivoting toward tomorrow
    Upcoming initiatives: funding for small experiments in cross-sector partnership, collaborative R&D labs, leadership development in adaptive changemaking for CEOs, activism around policy change for systemwide sustainability, and more introductions to dazzling digital tech.
  • 3/ Asking critical questions
    Guided by our equity practice, we want to always avoid “knowing without knowing,” which requires us to challenge assumptions, seek specificity, both search the horizon and dig at our feet, consult partners, and remain poised to shift.

And if all this tightrope walking has you feeling anxious, just listen to what Janelle Monáe says for some perspective.

Warmest regards,

Omari Rush
Executive Director